Entertainment Partners has doubled to more than 800 employees in the last eight years, opening offices in Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Utah and Alabama. Most of the employees work in Burbank, where a team of 18 workers advises companies on how to apply for, sell or monetize their credits. The company employed just one person to do that in 2006.

"We get 2,000 to 3,000 phone calls a year from clients," said Senior Vice President Joe Chianese, who launched the tax credit department.

The team draws up budgets and summaries of each state's incentives — eight budgets for a single film is not uncommon — while keeping tabs on any legislative changes that could affect film funding.

Entertainment Partners keeps a list of 25 companies that regularly purchase credits and has three full-time brokers who handle the sales.

"It's not just a phone call and handshake. There's a lot of work and discussion involved," Chianese said. "It can take weeks, it can take days."

Chianese also makes cold calls to prospective buyers and relies on leads from his staff, many of whom worked for major accounting firms with clients searching for tax breaks.

"Eight or 10 years ago it was, 'I want a beautiful mountain, should I go to Montana or Colorado?'" said Mark Goldstein, chief executive of Entertainment Partners. "Now it's, 'I can re-create anything. Just tell me where the money is.'"

richard.verrier@latimes.com

Times researcher Scott Wilson contributed to this report.